They’ve gotten ahold of the cardboard, the tin foilʼs out again, and your little ones want nothing more than to be robots… what do you do now? For inspiration on all things that go beep boop, look no further than the Bay Area’s local robot scene. Whether it be learning more about technology or inventing their own machine-like creations, these Bay Area places have robot-inspired ideas, toys, and materials for even the smallest of those mechanically-obsessed—to help them get their robot on.
Go here. Go play. Play well! With activity centers in Pleasanton and San Anselmo, Play-Well TEKnologies loves teaching engineering, physics, and architecture to kids. It’s easy to see how they do it, with their super knowledgeable staff and range of awesome ways for kids to play (a.k.a. learn). If you’re a first timer, try their Drop-In period for hands-on time at an hourly rate and access to thousands of Lego elements—plenty of motors and battery packs here—to help kiddos build. Once the family’s hooked, check out their classes, summer camps, and birthday parties. Secret parent bonus: hundreds of teeny tiny Lego pieces spread out all over someone else’s floor (not yours).
5737 Valley Avenue
216 Greenfield Avenue
This locally-owned creative headquarters offers a bright and colorful space with a ton of different materials (pottery, clay, and more) to make art of all kinds and in every theme imaginable. In the robot realm, kids can paint, decoupage, or glue shiny colorful decorations onto wooden figures, or there are robot-type statues that can be painted and fired. So everyone choose your own art and get going!
Insider tip: there’s a shelf-in-progress—if your family doesn’t finish in one sitting you can always go back for more creative play.
641 San Anselmo Avenue
6This cozy San Anselmo store is for the die-hard hobbyist—it’s full of figures and model kits; you can often watch someone working on a model-in-progress right in the store, or else just look all the cool parts on shelves. They have plenty of surefire mechanical inspiration in the form of remote-control powered toys and if you’re lucky, you’ll even get an in-store demonstration.
224 Greenfield Avenue
Where else would you bring a kid who loves robots? This retail store in the city combines pop art and mass culture and delivers a cool array of collectable toys, apparel, and even events, all on easy display for browsing (and buying). After visiting, you’re right in the heart of Haight-Ashbury for more funky shopping, or else head just a few minutes away toward Golden Gate Park to let your robot-children loose amidst nature.
1512 Haight Street
Robots are just one detail in a long line of technological advances, and the Intel Museum is the perfect place for kids to learn how it all comes together. They have cool interactive exhibits and guided tours that show a behind-the-scenes look at high-tech innovation. So while your kids are into robots today, maybe tomorrow they’ll be inventing technology that changes the world! (It all started with a simple little museum trip…)
2200 Mission College Boulevard
Santa Clara 95054
How do your kids play robot? Let us know!
All images courtesy of Mae Respicio